Management Information Systems for Projects and for Organizations

A Comparative Overview


By Russell D. Archibald

Archibald Associates

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Traditional MIS have evolved to serve structured, functional, permanent organizations. Project information systems more recently have emerged to serve temporary, relatively short-lived, multi-functional projects. Project MIS, compared to the various organizational MIS, must handle more diverse information and be more predictive and integrative in nature over a longer time span. The result is that project MIS are generally more difficult to implement, and their implementation often reveals existing incompatibilities with and between the various organizational MIS which provide information to project systems.

Specific product and project planning and control functions and tools are identified in this paper, and the types and sources of incompatibilities are discussed. Suggested methods of minimizing the problems are briefly presented.

The underlying thesis of this discussion is that a better understanding of the differences and interfaces between project and organizational MIS will help to resolve current problems and avoid future difficulties in the implementation of information systems to serve operating project managers.


In this discussion, I refer to management information systems (MIS) as identifiable sets of policies, models, procedures and files of information which operate to record, manipulate, store, retrieve, process and display information useful in managing some aspect of an organized enterprise. Such systems may depend only on rather simple mechanical devices operated directly by human hands, such as pencils, pens, ledgers, charts, and so on; or they may also depend on more complex devices and machines, such as slide rules, calculators and electronic data processing systems. They all seem to depend on paper to a great extent!

Perhaps Moses had the first MIS when he came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments chiseled into stone tablets. At least today’s reports carry more information per pound, but they are certainly no lighter to carry than the stone tablets of Moses’ day.

The basic classes of primary management information systems may be identified as follows:

  • General management
  • Financial
  • Logistics
  • Business acquisition
  • Resources

To which we now presume to add:

  • Projects

General management information systems are concerned with the overall, integrative planning and direction of the total enterprise. They include methods of generating, recording and processing information related to:

  • Strategic objectives and goals
  • Financial objectives
  • Business, market and product plans to achieve the objectives
  • Overall performance measurement and evaluation compared to objectives.

These general management information systems depend heavily on the financial MIS, and to a lesser extent on all other types of MIS.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented as a Keynote Address at the INTERNET 72 Third International Congress on Project Planning by Network Techniques (INTERNET became the International Project Management Association/IPMA a few years later) in Stockholm, Sweden, May 15-19, 1972. It is republished here with the author’s permission.


About the Author

Russell D. Archibald

Archibald Associates
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico



Now 93, with careers spanning more than 70 years, Russ Archibald has had broad international experiences in piloting and designing aircraft, corporate engineering, operations, and program and project management. His three project management related careers have been Military/Aerospace (19 years), Corporate Engineer & Executive (17 years), and Management Consultant (34 years to date). Russ has consulted to a wide variety of large and small organizations in 16 countries, has trained thousands of people in project management, and has resided in the USA, France, Mexico, Venezuela, Panama Canal Zone, and Peru with Marion, his wife of 70 years. For the past 23 years they have resided in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Russ is founding member number 6 of the Project Management Institute/PMI. After presenting the first PMI paper in 1969 he was President of the PMI Southern California Chapter in 1991-2, founding member of the PMI Mexico City Chapter in 1996, and in 2006 was awarded the PMI Jim O’Brien Lifetime Achievement Award. A PMI Fellow and Certified Project Management Professional, he co-authored with Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Debourse the 2011 PMI research report Project Managers as Senior Executives. He was also a founding member in 1970 and is an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Project Management (APM/IPMA-UK).In 1967 he was co-author (with Richard Villoria) of Network Based Management Information Systems (PERT/CPM),Wiley, one of the first books to appear on project management.

Russ is co-author with his grandson Shane Archibald of Leading and Managing Innovation-What Every Executive Team Must Know about Project, Program & Portfolio Management(2nd edition CRC Press 2015, 1st edition 2013 also published in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish); author of Managing High Technology Programs and Projects (3rd edition Wiley 2003, also published in Italian, Russian, and Chinese), has contributed chapters to 15 books edited by others, and presented 88 papers at many PMI, IPMA and other conferences in many countries. He holds BS (U. of Missouri 1948) and MS (U. of Texas 1956) degrees in Mechanical Engineering. Russ was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Strategy, Program, and Project Management from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Lille in Lille, France in 2005. See russarchibald.com. Russ can be contacted at [email protected]

To view other works by Russ Archibald, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/russell-d-archibald/